Woods Online Student Spotlights

Carri O'Donnell's family photo

Q&A with Woods Online Student Carri O'Donnell

Major: Elementary Education K-6
Hometown: Noblesville, IN
Enrolled at SMWC since 2009


Q: Why did you choose The Woods?

A: I am not one of the “returning” to college individuals; I never went in the first place! I have dyslexia and my experience in school was generally negative all around. At the age of 41, at nine months pregnant, I decided I needed go finally do it and go to college. I chose The Woods because I wanted my degree to matter. It had to be from a school with a long history of success, talent and substance. Through a lot of research, I found SMWC.

Q: A full-time mother, wife, employee and student... How do you do it all?

A: What's a typical day for me? Well, you might want to sit down! I am married, with four boys – 15, 11, nine and three. My oldest son is dyslexic and has Asperger’s Syndrome, which comes with its own set of special needs. I work 50 hours a week as the head teacher for in a kindergarten enrichment program at a private school in Carmel, Ind. I carry 16 credit hours per semester at SMWC, and am an active weekly volunteer at three different schools, as well as a member of CRHP Team 25 through my parish in Westfield, Ind. My day generally starts at 5:15 a.m. and I manage to get in bed by 12:30 a.m. most nights. Other than that, life is pretty quiet for me!

Q: What makes the effort worth it? 

A: Knowing that once I graduate, I will have completed a program at a highly regarded school where only the very best succeed. I will be part of an elite group of individuals that will be able to say “I am a graduate of SMWC!”

Q: What is your most memorable SMWC experience?

A: While on campus for my fall 2012 return, I went to the bookstore to pick up an armload of books. As I was checking out, the two wonderful girls that work there both recognized me. They asked me about my classes, how things were going and even knew one of the books I had picked up was from a class that I had already taken and that didn't need to purchase it a second time. It was a wonderful feeling!

Knowing I only step foot on the campus a few times a year, I was treated with such familiarity and kindness. Being connected to the campus is so important. I think many online students underplay the significance of being a part of the SMWC culture. For me, it has meant a lot to know that there is a lot going on and at any time I am welcome on campus as part of the family.

Q: What is your favorite place to study?

A: Anywhere I can – in my van during car line, the laundry room waiting for the dryer to finish, boys' baseball practice, on the bathroom floor while my youngest splashes away, on top of the deep freeze in the garage because the boys are too loud in the house. Of course the park, my makeshift desk, on my lunch break and oftentimes in the Adoration Chapel at Saint Maria Goretti, my parish in Westfield, Ind.

Casey Dunbar

Q&A with Woods Online Student Casey Dunbar

Major: Human Services
Hometown: Terre Haute, IN
Enrolled in Woods Online since 2010 


Q: Why did you choose The Woods?

A: I chose The Woods because of its integrity and reputation. When people see the Woods Ring or the name on the degree, they know the pride, dedication, commitment to excellence and the values that are taught to each student by the faculty, staff and alums. 

Q: How do you juggle work, family and school? 

A: Sometimes I am not sure if I juggle them all or fumble through them all! A typical day in my life is crazy to say the least. I wake my son up and get him ready for school, before working my three part-time jobs. When I get off work I go to my parents’ house and pick up my son. We eat, do his homework, spend some quality time together and then comes bath and bedtime. Once he has gone to bed I work on cleaning the house and doing my homework. I am often busy at basketball practice, running a support group for mothers and attending free local events with my friends and their children. My life is always going quickly and oftentimes it is impossible to sit down and breathe, but when I get those rare moments, I read books and relax.

Q: Who is your greatest inspiration?

A: My greatest inspiration is my six-year-old son Elias. He often challenges me to look at things differently and reminds me that there is a lot of joy in life. He inspires me because he believes in me so wholeheartedly. When I sit with my textbooks and laptop, he gets his sketchbook and colored pencils and says “Okay, mom, time to do awesome stuff. I’ll draw an awesome picture and you type an awesome thing on your computer." I cannot help but feel inspired by his true innocence and belief that if you want to make something amazing, you will and can. 

Q: What does Pomeroy Pride mean to you?

A: Pomeroy Pride is something that I hold very dear to my heart. I find myself proud to tell people that I attend SMWC because I believe it speaks for the person I am and that I am going to be. I think that it shows that I am among the elite who chose the road that is less traveled for the wonderful rewards it will yield. I want to be the person who stands up for what they believe is right, despite what others might think. I am continually inspired to be a harder-working, more honest, loving, kind and caring person. I am inspired to lead by example, not by loud words, and to set myself apart as someone of excellence. This is Pomeroy Pride to me.